1. Several of my favourite books and TV shows feature elements of England, Scotland, and Ireland: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Harry Potter, Sherlock (and the Sherlock Holmes mysteries), Bridget Jones’ Diary, Austenland, The Decoy Bride, Splitting Heirs, Outlander, Jane Eyre, All Creatures Great and Small, Shawn of the Dead, The Commitments, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Doctor Who . . . I read about British places over and over again — most recently, today! In my grade 11 English, we’re nearly done reading Yes Man by Danny Wallace, and he mentions* Stonehenge and Canary Wharf. Those locations were also featured on two amazing Doctor Who episodes. Coincidence? I think not!
*Danny Wallace also visits several other awesome places, not just in Great Britain — he travels to Spain, and to Singapore. I have been itching to get out my passport but I am neither single, child free, nor blessed with space on new credit cards (and he points out at the end of the book the rampant costs of those trips). Still — bucket list, people!
2. My great-grandparents on my dad’s side, and my great-grandfather on my mom’s side, were English. There are records of my dad’s family on HIS dad’s side coming over in the 19th century, having origins in Scotland, and further back, I know their forebears were in the Scottish Highlands. (And before that, they were German mercenaries hired from the mountains.) But my mother’s grandfather — he was a Home Child, and it would be interesting to try to investigate who he was, somehow. I do enjoy poring over primary source records! Imagine doing so in a lovely thousand-year-old church . . .
3. Accents. I’m a sucker for an amazing accent, be it Scottish, Irish, East End London . . . I also enjoy others, Spanish in particular (helloooo Antonio Banderas!), but there’s something about British accents that is downright homey. Comforting. There’s a link between our Canadian East Coast accent and one of the English dialects, too, and I find that really interesting to listen to (it’s not surprising, either, given the link of the fishing industry and the origins of many settlers in our Eastern provinces and territories).
4. Beer. I’m not a fan, generally, but if I were in a pub with Guiness on tap, I’d be partaking simply for the experience of it. I want the Spirit of the West experience.
*PSST — Danny Wallace, every time I read in Yes Man about your travels, this song comes to mind. Or when you’re in a pub. This might be your song. Or maybe not.
5. There are many other places I’d like to see, too. I’ve done previous posts on the places I’d like to go: Italy, Greece, Egypt, India, Australia . . . but my starting point has always been England, and maybe that’s in part due to family background. I’m totally okay with that. I wish I had a map on my wall with pins marking the places I’d been, and a piece of string linking them up, and that I could have a great big one on England that links out to all of the others. I once thought that maybe teaching could be a way to see the world, but that’s turned into more of a challenge than I’d expected it to be. Hasn’t happened yet. (YET!) It’s struck me that this point (#5) isn’t really a reason why I have to go to GB, but it marks that island of nations as being the beginning of a worldwide journey I have to make happen. If I’m ever going to travel the planet, I should go back to my own beginnings. (Thanks, Princess Bride!)
6. There are some journeys I undertake with my students, and some I undertake with my children, and some I do for myself. The latter is becoming more and more rare. I would like to go to Great Britain for myself, primarily, but also to share the experience with the kiddie winks. My own, that is. But if I took them, I wouldn’t necessarily be able to do the grown-up activities that I’d like to do. Sometimes, when you’re travelling, you just want a night out on the town, for example. But if I were able to take the kids when they’re a bit older, maybe we could compromise with adults-only nights out while the elder watches over the younger. Nah, who am I kidding — like as not, by the time I can get there, they’ll be grown and gone. Bring on the nightlife! After all, I’m not getting any younger, either.
7. I feel stuck much of the time. I have to go to Great Britain — plan it, save for it, make a dream chart, what-have-you — because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in one place, hemmed in by the borders of my own nation (even though I love it and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else). I rather wish I were a citizen of the world. I want the memories and the pictures, the stamps on my passport and the feel of different ground under my feet. I want to experience communities, see ruins and restaurants and libraries and sidewalk artists and vineyards and fountains, and then come home and write about it all. Sometimes it is awfully tempting to just sell everything and pull up roots to follow the wind around the world. Starting with Great Britain, and a selfie in front of Buckingham Palace.
Every once in a while, I look into things like teacher exchange programs and things like that, but life does tend to get in the way. I’ll keep reading, and plotting, and when I finally get my student loans paid off (plus a few others that never seem to go away), I will make it happen. I’ll get my picture by Stonehenge, and Hadrian’s Wall, on Platform 9 and 3/4, in Sherwood Forest, and drinking stout in an old Irish pub. The only question is when.